We’re very pleased to announce the first full release of our Where Does My Money Go? prototype. This is now online at:
Tom Watson MP, commented on the new release:
Where Does My Money Go represents another milestone in the UK’s transparency movement. We know that transparency changes individual and institutional behaviour and this new tool will have a big impact on the way the public sector is held to account by UK citizens.
As well as being a great public benefit, Where Does My Money Go is also an immensely complicated tool to code and design. I applaud the team behind the project for their commitment and hard work. They’re leading the way in transparency and making a difference for the country.
Our press release below contains more background information on the new prototype. For all you microbloggers out there, here is a 136 character version of the project announce:
Now more than ever, UK taxpayers will be wondering where public funds are being spent – not least because of the long shadow cast by the financial crisis and last week’s announcements of an estimated £850 billion price tag for bailing out UK banks. Yesterday’s pre-budget report also raises questions about spending cutbacks and how public money is being allocated across different key areas.
However, closing the loop between ordinary citizens and the paper-trail of government receipts is no mean feat. Relevant documents and datasets are scattered around numerous government websites – and, once located, spending figures often require background knowledge to interpret and can be hard put into context. In the UK there is no equivalent to the US Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, which requires official bodies to publish figures on spending in a single place. There were proposals for similar legislation in 2007, but these were never approved.
On Friday 11th December the Open Knowledge Foundation will launch a free interactive online tool for showing where UK public spending
goes. The Where Does My Money Go? project allows the public to explore data on UK public spending over the past 6 years in an intuitive way using an array of maps, timelines and graphs. By means of the tool, anyone can make sense of information on public spending in ways which were not previously possible.
For example, while playing around with the tool, we noticed:
- Total public spending as a percentage of gross domestic product this year increased to levels not seen since the recession of 1992.
- Healthcare spending in real terms under New Labour has almost doubled since they came to power in 1997. Education spending has increased by 75%.
- The UK spends more on old age than on education. The amount of money spent to support those in retirement is £87bn compared to the
£82bn on the whole of education.
- £665 was spent in Northern Ireland on housing and amenities for
every man, woman and child in 2008-9, compared to £413 in London.
Spending per capita in Britain’s capital on housing, transport and
public order and safety all exceeded the national average by over 60%.
Notes to editors
The Open Knowledge Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving the way knowledge is shared. The Where Does My Money? project was a winner of the Cabinet Office’s Show Us A Better Way competition. The project benefits from an
advisory group which includes leading transparency advocates and information visualisation experts. The prototype was conceived by the Open Knowledge Foundation and developed with data visualisation specialists iconomical, based in Amsterdam. The Foundation is also currently working with the UK Government on the technology behind the new data.gov.uk site.
Currently the Where Does My Money Go prototype is based on data from HM Treasury – but the project team is working to collect, aggregate and incorporate much more fine-grained information, including on local spending. On Monday Gordon Brown announced plans to publish much more detailed information on public spending in a more systematic way as part of the Smarter Government initiative.
Dr. Jonathan Gray is Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, where he is currently writing a book on data worlds. He is also Cofounder of the Public Data Lab; and Research Associate at the Digital Methods Initiative (University of Amsterdam) and the médialab (Sciences Po, Paris). More about his work can be found at jonathangray.org and he tweets at @jwyg.